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Tips for drying harvested woods: Dead trees, Storms, etc.

7488 Views 9 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  RandyMarine
I thought this would be an interesting subject to start as since we're having record snowfall (20" last week, another 8"-20" tonight/tomorrow), we are also having trees in our neighborhood snap or fall from the heavy weight of the wet snow. We lost a branch from our 25' holly tree and have cut the leafy branches off to store the main piece indoors to dry. This I am told, will allow the wood to cure and remain pure white, as if we were to harvest the wood while the sap is running (spring/summer) and not kiln dry it, the wood would turn a dull green/blue/grey from mold. Not knowing this earlier, we had cut some branches during the growing season and did not have a kiln, so the branches saved will not be the beautiful pure white color that holly is known for.

If anyone would like to share their experiences in drying green wood I welcome you to post them here.
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I've just found a product that I have ordered but have not tired. It's an organic, safe product called Cedar Cide I have been told that the oil will penetrate unfinished wood and remove all moisture and start to preserve the wood to being pre-pretrified to the point that it will become extremely hard (and durable) over 6-12+ months time. You don't want to treat unfinished projects with this unless you intend to finish them within the 6-12 month period, as the wood will get extremely hard and unworkable. It can be used to help stabilize green wood to work with and make it dry faster and it will also make it very dense and heavy. I'm told it will retain the weight of wet wood, like petrified wood, but give it some flexibility so it will not "snap".

Once I get my shipment in and try this, I'll let you know what happens
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I got some Holly from a sawmill. I went with him to cut down the tree. Snow on the ground.

He cut the tree and cut it into boards within a week and I picked it up.

Some of the boards are white in places. None of it it totally white,

It seems that the 2" stuff has more white than the 1" stuff.

I stickered it in my workshop (non heated, unless I'm working there) But, with 2 fans blowing on the wood stack. I kept up the blowing for about 2 months. Some blue staining some white.

The Holly trees that I have down on my property now, I plan to cut the trees and try and get it cut into boards on my bandsaw within a couple of hours. Then I'll turn the fans on it and try and get them dry.
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Another thing to keep in mind is that branch wood from a limb that was growing horizontal may have a lot of movement because of the stresses while it was growing. The top half of the limb was under tension, while the bottom half was under compression. Allow extra time for the wood to stabilize. Or better yet, try to use wood that is growing vertically.
thanks for the link and info Millie
Steve P: That's interesting to know about the stress on limbs that have grown horizonally. I never really took that into consideration before but it makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the tip.

Okay, the rest of you LJ's have a LOT of knowledge out there. Novices & mastercraftsmen alike have something to contribute, so don't be shy! Post your tip and join the topic.

I've done a fair amount of slabbing & drying fallen or felled trees (see my previous blogs) and the stresses in branch wood can be quite extreme.

When slabbing a branch log, try to ensure that the slabbing cuts go through the log in what used to be the vertical plane while the branch was still growing. If you get that right, the boards will curve sideways while curing rather than bowing.
PG_Zac: That's a very helpful tip, as I'm sure after working so hard to harvest and saw lumber it would be heart wrenching to have your lumber cup or bow on you, making it pretty much useless for most projects.

We made a dining room table from fiddle back maple and fortunately it was done in a rustic/modern style, as with our lack of wood working knowledge we failed to place the planks to face the growth rings alternating up/down and some of the planks have slightly cupped, only noticeable to a mastercraftsman, but none the less, incorrectly built. Dining room table:
Salvaging downed trees always seems like a really cool idea, but there's more involved than just slabbing it up and waiting for it to dry. I'm no expert, but I don't think that I've ever seen a sawmill using anything but the trunks to make lumber.

That branch probably won't give you much (if any) decent lumber. It might be fun to see what you get, but I wouldn't expect very much. - lol
This must be an omen. I had talked to my cousin on Saturday about some trees he wants gone…Knowing I am a woodworker (and I use the term very loosley) asked if I could help and would let me leave the wood on his property to figure out what I needed to do with it. I do know someone who would help me out with cutting them. I was going to post something like this to get a better idea of what to do with it after.
And of course, I logged on this morning and I found a nice timber jig on the project page and this thread.
I was going to ask if I should cut them and let them sit on his property for a while or try and get them picked up and milled and dried right away?
Thanks for all your help on all my questions.
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